- Gambling was the focus Wednesday for various law enforcement agencies in Northeast Pennsylvania.
On Wednesday, Oct. 3, the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement (BLCE) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), along with assistance from the Pennsylvania State Police's Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Troop P, Wyoming, Troop R, Dunmore, the Lackawanna District Attorney's Office and the Luzerne County District Attorney's Office "conducted simultaneous raids" at 187 locations in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Susquehanna and Wayne Counties.
In the press release from the PSP and BLCE, it states "the raids and resulting seizures" were part of on ongoing, two year investigation into illegal gambling. The investigation was done on both liquor-licensed and non-liquor licensed establishments
Sergeant James Jones of the PSP and the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement said troopers "departed between 4-5 p.m." and the last truck came in "around 2 a.m."
He said there were "probably around 250" officers involved from all across the Commonwealth.
The raid was "a tremendous undertaking" and is one of the largest he has seen in his 20 years.
The result of the operation was the seizure of "approximately 400 gambling machines."
The machines were seized as a result of "making illegal payouts" to undercover liquor enforcement officers or possessing characteristics that made them illegal.
Jones said the characteristics that make a device illegal can vary.
"A video machine for entertainment has different characteristics" than one used for illegal gambling, he said.
Those characteristics can range from differences in the circuitry of the device to having a way to remove points earned from the machine.
In some cases, undercover officers "were able to receive cash payouts" instead of points, which is an illegal activity.
As for the machines seized in Wayne County, Jones did not have "a county-wide breakdown" of what was seized where or what establishments were visited.
Officers also seized a "significant amount" of United States currency "determined to be associated with illegal gambling."
The devices that were seized are related to a single vender, who is stated to be the primary focus of the investigation. The name of the vendor was not released.
Page 2 of 2 - The release also notes that as the investigation moves forward "criminal charges, as well as administrative liquor code violations, as well as administrative code violations" are expected to be brought against both the vendor and the establishments involved in the illegal activities.
The PSP will be cooperating with the IRS, which may also lead to separate federal charges.
Jones said the officers involved "all did a fantastic job" with a "daunting task."